COLUMN: Productive August in Central Washington
In the Fourth Congressional District, the August district work period has been a busy time for me traveling up and down Central Washington to meet with constituents and hear their concerns firsthand.
Many communities in our area are dealing with dry weather and wildfires, which are a constant reminder of the vital need for federal land management reform. I held a Forest Service Advisory Panel in Omak with community members, and the feedback I received is that the U.S. Forest Service needs to improve forest health through active thinning and burning. Local residents also stressed that the Forest Service budget should be prioritized to address forest health needs. I could not agree more, and these improvements have been a focus of my work in Congress. I was also encouraged that the U.S. Forest Service Northwest Regional Office finalized and adopted a recommendation, which I requested, to maintain the North Cascade Smokejumper Base in Winthrop. I will continue to work on these priorities on behalf of our rural areas across Central Washington that are prone to wildfire threats.
Agriculture and water issues were front and center in Ritzville, where I sat down with Adams County community members to receive local input on the upcoming Farm Bill. As a farmer myself, I know just how critical federal policy changes are for farming communities nationwide and in Central Washington. I also heard concerns about improving water infrastructure, which is an important local issue for agriculture.
In Yakima, I held a senior symposium to bring together support organizations and resources for our local seniors. My event focused on assisting seniors navigate Social Security and Medicare, as well as steps to take to protect personal information from identity theft.
I am working hard in Congress to improve the economic climate for Washington families, and that means hearing from local businesses on challenges they face. I met with entrepreneurs and community leaders in Prosser and the Tri-Cities to discuss ways to help employers and small businesses through simplifying the tax code. I was honored to receive the “Spirit of Enterprise Award” at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce for supporting pro-growth policies. Another community highlight was getting the chance to attend the ribbon-cutting for a new transportation hub in Moses Lake, which shows the exciting local improvements in Grant County as it grows and prospers.
Now it is as important as ever that we ensure our veterans are receiving the care they deserve, which was the reason I hosted a veterans resource and benefits fair in Tonasket. I spoke with veterans about their concerns with navigating the Veterans Choice program, which has a new importance in light of the closure of the local veterans’ clinic.
The input I have received from veterans, seniors, farmers, entrepreneurs, and from all constituents I met with during August will be important for me to represent Central Washington as Congress comes back into session.